By David Runciman and Catherine Carr

About this podcast   English    United States

Corbyn! Trump! Brexit! Politics has never been more unpredictable, more alarming or more interesting. TALKING POLITICS is the podcast that tries to make sense of it all. Each Thursday, in Cambridge, David Runciman will talk to his regular panel along with novelists, comedians, historians, philosophers - and even a few politicians - and ask them what they think is going on... Democracy is feeling the strain everywhere. What might happen next? How bad could it get? As it unfolds, TALKING POLITICS will be on it. It’s the political conversation everyone is having: please join us.

Talking Politics is brought to you in partnership with the London Review of Books, Europe's leading magazine of books and ideas.

In this podcast


News & Politics

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June 21, 2018
David talks to Andrew O'Hagan about his epic essay in the LRB on the causes, consequences and fall-out of the terrible Grenfell Tower fire that happened a year ago. We discuss what the Grenfell community was like before the fire, what went wrong on the night, and how politics has intruded into everything that has happened since. Plus we talk about the angry push-back to Andrew's account. It can all be read here:
June 14, 2018
From the G7 to the Singapore summit, it's Trump's world: we just live in it. This week we try to get some perspective on these spectacular events. Is Trump's behaviour really unprecedented for an American president? What is the point of the G7? Where is his relationship with Kim heading? Plus we compare with summits past: Nixon in China, Reagan & Gorbachev, or something new? With Helen Thompson and Andrew Preston, who gives a Canadian view. Next week: Grenfell.
June 7, 2018
A new Italian government spells a heap of trouble for Europe. We ask how we got to this point and what it means the future of the Euro. What really spooked the markets? Who blinked first? And why does Italian politics have such a soft spot for university professors? Plus we talk about the new government in Spain and we weigh up the state of democracy across the continent. Is this how democracy is meant to work or is this really how democracy ends? With Helen Thompson, Chris Bickerton and Lucia Rubinelli from the LSE.
May 31, 2018
After John McDonnell said he was still committed to the socialist transformation of Britain, we ask what that might mean. Does socialism really require the overthrow of capitalism? What's the difference between socialism and communism? And with successful Democratic candidates in the US starting to use the s-word in public, what does socialism have to offer in America? Plus we talk about whether social media and social networks offer the possibility of a new kind of socialism for the twenty-first century. With Helen Thompson, Chris Bickerton and Chris Brooke
May 24, 2018
This week we try to make sense of what's happening to the international order, from the end of the Iran deal to the on-again-off-again US-North Korean summit to opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem. Can Europe carve out a separate foreign policy from the Trump administration? Is regime change still the name of the game? And what has it all got to do with the price of oil? Plus we ask if anything is left of Obama's legacy and why it was so easy to undo. With Helen Thompson, Aaron Rapport and Chris Bickerton. 
May 17, 2018
This week we discuss how and why mental health has become a growing political issue. What are the differences in the way the political parties approach this problem? Is it something that unites or divides people across generations and classes? And what can politicians do to help us cope? Plus we talk about whether politics itself has become a more stressful job than it used to be. With Helen Thompson and Chris Brooke.
May 10, 2018 · transcript
After the largest strike in the sector for a generation, we talk to Stephen Toope, Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University, about the politics of higher education. How did the issue of pensions become so politically charged? What are the long-term consequences of treating students as consumers? How should universities respond to the challenge of Brexit? Plus we return to the question of why having a university degree is now one of the main dividing lines in contemporary politics. With Helen Thompson and Chris Brooke.
May 6, 2018
An extra episode this week to talk about David's new book How Democracy Ends, out next week. With a clip from the lecture we put out at the start of the year and a chat with Helen and Chris Bickerton. The book is available with a special discount for Talking Politics listeners at
May 3, 2018 · transcript
We talk with economist Diane Coyle about what's wrong with our main measure of economic performance and how it impacts on politics. She tells us what we're missing in our measures of economic activity and she explains how we could do it better. Plus we discuss whether the unemployment figures still tell a true picture of the world of work and we ask whether the dollar's days as the global reserve currency may be coming to an end. Numbers and why they matter. With Helen Thompson and Chris Bickerton.
April 26, 2018
We catch up with James Williams, winner of the Nine Dots Prize, ahead of the publication of his prize-winning book Stand Out of Our Light: Freedom and Resistance in the Attention Economy. What is the relentless competition for our attention doing to our well-being? How can we fight back against the endless pull of the phone in our pocket? And what does it all mean for politics? The book will available free to download from Cambridge University Press on 31 May.

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